The feature that makes the Prius such a draw for the environmentally conscious is really its weak spot: the battery. Like all hybrid batteries, it's of the nickel metal hydride variety. The nickel for the Prius is mined in Sudbury, Ontario, and smelted at a plant nearby. Toyota buys 1,000 tons of nickel from the plant each year.
So far, so green? Maybe not. The landscape around the plant at the city's edge alarms environmentalists. Some eco-activists blame the bleak, lifeless countryside near the facility in part on its 1,250-foot smokestack that belches acid-rain-causing sulphur dioxide.
'Sudbury remains a major environmental and health problem,' says David Martin of Greenpeace Canada. 'The environmental cost of producing that car battery is pretty high.'
But there's more. From the Sudbury plant, the smelted nickel is shipped to Europe, where it's refined in Wales. Next, it's sent to China, where it's manufactured in nickel foam. The nickel is then moved to Japan, where Prius batteries are made.
But the long, fossil-fuel-burning journey doesn't end there. After the batteries are placed in the Prius, some of the nickel is round-tripped back to North America while some is shipped to Europe in cars sold outside Japan.
Destroying the planet in my Prius – The Mike Thomas Blog – Orlando Sentinel
Toyota Prius Drivers Fuel Environmental Catastrophe - By MARTIN DELGADO, London Mail - Mail on Sunday